Veterans Groups Plan to Expel Any Members Who Took Part in Capitol Riot

Supporters of President Donald Trump march on Pennsylvania Avenue
Supporters of President Donald Trump march on Pennsylvania Avenue towards the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Disabled American Veterans is warning that any member who is found to have participated in the U.S. Capitol riots last week will face expulsion from the one-million member veterans service organization. And it’s not the only veterans service organization looking to come down hard on these insurrectionists.

The rioters' actions were "a disgrace to our national values and must not be tolerated," DAV National Commander Stephen "Butch" Whitehead said via Twitter on Saturday.

On Jan. 6, Trump supporters swarmed into the building, resulting in fatal injuries to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. At least a handful of veterans have been identified as taking part; one was shot and killed by police. Altogether, six deaths are linked to the incident, including a Capitol Police officer who is believed to have died by suicide.

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"As veterans who have sacrificed to support and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, DAV abhors and rejects the insurrectionist acts perpetrated at our Capitol on Wednesday," the statement added. "We are saddened that any veteran would desecrate our nation's capital and will take immediate action to initiate the removal of any DAV member found guilty of committing illegal acts against our nation."

Todd Hunter, a DAV spokesman, said Monday that the group would look to expel any member who may have joined in criminal acts at the Capitol, but not those who were simply present and did not engage in wrongdoing.

He said the DAV had no indications as yet that any of its members had participated, but the organization felt compelled to make it known that "here's where we stand."

"We wanted to make it known as an organization that we will not have any members who are insurrectionists," Hunter said.

Other veterans organizations also have such a rule.

In a Twitter post Saturday, Joe Chenelly, national executive director of AMVETS, applauded the stance taken by the DAV.

"This is indeed a great message from DAV," Chenelly said. "What is outlined here is already the written rule in AMVETS as well, but DAV is doing a great service with this clearly stated reminder. We will look at how we can enhance this within AMVETS."

The Veterans of Foreign Wars also has policies for expelling members whose actions bring disgrace on the organization.

"We have policies and procedures in place to take organizational action against members who engage in conduct unbecoming to the organization," VFW spokesman Terence Hayes said in a statement.

Editor's note:  This story has been updated to make clear the DAV plans to expel only those members who committed criminal acts.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at

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